From whom do you gain hope and a sense of possibilities for the future?   And in what ways do you convey hope and possibilities to others?

This past Mother’s Day (or “Mothering Day” in FB friend Lynn Edelson’s words) – NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro spoke to Julie Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton about their new podcast “Julie’s Library.”  “You have a special place in the heart of kids and grown-ups, something that sort of messages that everything is going to be OK,” Garcia-Navarro began. 

“…that’s the whole point,” Andrews responded…”to bring some fun to children in this very difficult time while the dreaded virus is among us…We’d been planning this podcast for quite a while, but it was suddenly decided that we would bring it forward and introduce it a little sooner…because of needing things for families to do together.”

Like for Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton, the COVID-19 pandemic has elicited both an urgency and new, different avenues for offering hope, possibilities and even, joy to others…

Last week, Brooklyn-based copy editor Howard Gotfryd was interviewed by Garcia-Navarro.   Both Gotfryd’s parents were immigrants who survived the Holocaust.  “…my mother – when I asked her how she survived 10 months in Auschwitz concentration camp at the end of the war, she said to me, I always had hope. She died about 16 years ago. And in honor of her, our daughter was born a year later, and we named her Hope…”

“’Hard Times Come Again No More’ by Emmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers – is really a plea to people who are more fortunate to consider people who are less fortunate, ” Gottfryd shared.  “So our policy here, you know, in our home is not only to donate to relief organizations, but also to help people we know who are less fortunate than we are.”

The pandemic has elicited a new twist to Gretchen Burn’s creative endeavors.  Retired public relations professional, visual artist, mother and 3-time cancer survivor, Gretchen has always found a way to incorporate art/creative projects into her professional and personal life.  Last Fall, I noticed these delightful berets on her FB page.  Gretchen was offering made-to-order, reasonably-priced berets.  I couldn’t resist and bought 3!

Shortly after we were given “Shelter-in-Place” directives, Gretchen implemented what she called, the 6:15 pm Fleetwood wave!  “Here’s an easy way to counter the social isolation that many of her neighbors were feeling,” she thought.  Every night at 6:15 pm, Gretchen and her wife, Amy step outside – along with lots of other folks from the block – and greet each other, while maintaining a safe distance.  And then, came the special Friday events…a band with serious dancing one Friday and FUN HATS FRIDAY…a great showing of neighbors with lots of fun hats!  The smiles and participation clearly demonstrate how much these events are appreciated!

Outdoor Educator Eileen Blank is one of the most inquisitive individuals I know and has always Been fascinated by her surroundings (both urban settings and in nature).  This pandemic has brought to Eileen a new source of creativity AS WELL AS JOY TO OTHERS!  With her workplace closed, she is now an official volunteer for her Coop!  “My job is to create and maintain a flower arrangement in the lobby of our building. This month-long stint is now going on 3 months…and I am stopped frequently by my neighbors.  They seem to be delighting in my flower arrangements and I am enjoying creating them…I never knew I had this talent!”

Stained glass artist, musician and retired Special Ed teacher Caren Price clearly felt “compelled” at this time to help out in some way.  “Thanking our frontline healthcare workers seemed like a good idea,” she explained. These rainbow themed pretzels (in honor of our #518RainbowHunt) were delivered to St Peters Hospital, Samaritan Hospital, the VA Hospital and SUNY Albany COVID-19 testing center. What motivated Caren to use her talents (both culinary and artistic!)?  “I didn’t want to sit around feeling helpless!  And these people are amazing and deserve more than we can possibly ever give them!”  Sounds like a desire to say thank you and bring hope to those who are doing the same for others!  And if you like Caren’s stained glass peace symbols check out her work at:


For writer, photographer and artist Carole Fults, the pandemic has just enhanced the need and appreciation for the hope conveyed in her poetry.  On Carole’s website , she writes, “There is a beauty and mystery in the natural world that has called to me since I was first aware.  I try to capture that in my poetry and photographs.”  A recent poem of Carole’s:  “After Night”:

After a long black night
pink and white clouds
yellow sun
dark branches waving
against a glowing sky;
Icy waters slide over stones
spring winds rustle the chimes
as she watches the waking forest and fields;
She says the day love and joy were born
has come again this morning
to be remembered
to renew Spirit in the world;
Miracles live within each other.
After dark storms this day returns
as much a miracle
as the breath
and heart that live
within the blue bird on Bennett Hill.
©photo and poem by caf

I think many would agree – when we spread hope, joy and feelings of being cared for, it comes back to us manifold.  This recent photo (from July 2019) posted by Debra Johnson comes to mind!

At our recent Women R.E.A.D. book club meeting, we discussed Sy Montgomery’s memoir:  “How to be a Good Creature” and who in our lives – whether 2-legged or 4-legged – have been our greatest teachers.  Founding “mother” AND poet, birder and retired NYS advocate Debra Johnson commented, “I have learned so much from my children and grandchildren… especially about love!” …and no doubt, Debra was the one to instill that sense of hope, possibilities and love in each of her children, who in turn instilled that love in each of theirs.  Debra is clearly reaping the fruits of her labor

So if you are in a time of PAUSE, think about your talents and skills, how you can use them to make a difference for friends, family members, colleagues or your community!  And when (and how) we feel most nourished and whole gives us clues about our most treasured gifts and talents!

Is it in relationship-building?  Writing…poetry, short stories or simply, your thoughts?  Thinking outside the box and putting different ideas together?  Working with plants, flowers?  Baking?  A strong sense and appreciation for beauty?  Helping others to meet basic needs – delivering food, shopping for someone, ensuring clean surfaces, etc.?  Spending time with children? Engaging in fun (and perhaps, educational) activities remotely with young people?  Providing respite and support for a parent, who is juggling their paying job with the non-paying one? Etc, etc!

And while we are making a difference in someone else’s life, we ourselves will gain so much! …Feel good about ourselves, build self-confidence, our skills and even a resume and interviewing skills (if you are currently job-seeking – or planning to job seek soon!) …and not least, BRING JOY INTO OUR OWN LIVES!

And best of all, the cycle will continue!

Good luck and have fun!





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